LAWRENCE — Wes Miller heard it directly from Bill Self — and witnessed it from Devon Dotson.

The UNC Greensboro head coach, whose Spartans faced the tall task of stopping an agitated No. 3-ranked Kansas basketball squad Friday night in the Jayhawks’ home opener at Allen Fieldhouse, sought to slow KU with a soft press. Coming off a season-opening defeat to No. 4 Duke where the Jayhawks committed 28 turnovers, pressure from the visiting squad seemed like a sound strategy.

And it worked — for about 17 minutes, that is. As the game went on, though, Miller caught wind of his opponent’s mentality versus the look, learning of it first from, well, Self himself.

“You saw them really attack it,” Miller said. “Actually, out of my ears a couple of times I heard coach Self yelling, ‘Attack!’ I think that was a way they were really trying to attack us.”

That way, as Miller put it, was really a who.


One day after Self challenged his sophomore point guard to be a better leader and facilitator in the wake of the high-profile defeat to the Blue Devils, Dotson did just that, and then some. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound speedster out of Charlotte, N.C., was turned up from the outset of his team’s eventual 74-62 victory over the Spartans, scoring 22 points while securing eight rebounds and dishing six assists.

“They didn’t have as much success with (beating the press) early in the game, but as the game wore down, we weren’t as good in our press and they were pretty good in attacking it,” Miller continued. “And Devon Dotson had quite a bit to do with that. We had a tough time dealing with him tonight, staying in front.”

It was a bounce-back effort for both team and point guard.

A preseason All-Big 12 selection, Dotson scuffled in the Jayhawks' 68-66 defeat to Duke, committing a team-high six turnovers versus just one assist in his marquee matchup against Blue Devils star Tre Jones. When asked Thursday what he’d like to see from Dotson moving forward, Self remarked: “Run a team. Yeah, run a team.”

The reviews were much higher just 24 hours later.

“I thought Devon played great,” Self said. “That was a different Devon than we saw Tuesday night.”

Dotson’s highlights came early and often.

He notched a steal on the first possession of the game, feeding it ahead to Marcus Garrett for a tone-setting fastbreak layup. He helped offset a horrendous shooting start from his teammates in the first period from both beyond the arc and at the free-throw line, hitting 2 of 4 tries from 3-point range and 6 of 6 attempts from the stripe as other Jayhawks went 3 of 10 and 1 of 10 in those areas, respectively, en route to a 36-32 halftime advantage.

Dotson said he was eager to start fast on the heels of Tuesday’s eyesore.

“We know what we didn’t do Tuesday night and we wanted to correct it and to bring that energy,” Dotson said. “It was the home opener, so we just wanted to feed off the crowd and get it going.”

Dotson’s jumper right out of the intermission kick-started a 12-2 run that at long last delivered some separation for the 15-point favorite Jayhawks, who led by double figures the rest of the way.

Perhaps most notably, Dotson had just one turnover in guiding a KU attack that committed only 10, a far cry from the troubling 28 against Duke.

After the game, Dotson smiled and said he “had fun” working against the press, a comment he later explained — “They’re pressuring me, so I can make the quick move and I’m by the first defender, second defender and then it’s kick out from there or drop off to the bigs,” he said.

If Miller heard Self’s rallying cry during the game, it’s pretty clear Dotson was all ears during practice.

“I just had a mindset this game, just attack mode,” said Dotson, repeating the word Self shouted from the sideline. “Tried to find my teammates and constantly put pressure on the defense. I wanted to have that mindset today.”

Ochai Agbaji scored 13 points for KU, which also got double-figure scoring performances from Marcus Garrett (10 points) and Udoka Azubuike (10 points, 10 rebounds). UNC Greensboro (1-1) was paced by Isaiah Miller’s 19 points, but even that total has a Dotson fingerprint on it — the Spartans’ starting guard committed his fourth foul on a Dotson drive with just over 11 minutes left and went to the bench, held scoreless the rest of the way.

Despite the encouraging outcome, Dotson is well aware work remains to be done, particularly from a chemistry standpoint. He said the team’s current comfort level with one another is “definitely a factor” in how the Jayhawks have played to this point.

It's an intangible the group will look to improve in its next contest at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 against Monmouth at Allen Fieldhouse.

“You’re just throwing everybody out,” Dotson said. “Even though it’s Year 2 (for me), it’s still a different lineup. So two-big lineups, getting comfortable with that, getting more familiar with how to play with that system — as the year goes on we’re going to be more comfortable, and we’re going to get better and learn from each other.”


Wilson suffers potentially season-ending injury

Jalen Wilson, a freshman guard and the Jayhawks' highest-ranked recruit in the Class of 2019 haul, suffered a broken left ankle in the first half of Friday's game.

Self indicated Wilson could be a candidate to medically redshirt, which would sideline him for the remainder of the season.

“Yeah, it’s a bad one. He broke it and requires surgery early next week,” Self said. “Timetable on return will probably be close to three months, so I’m not going to tell you he’ll for sure sit the rest of the year, but the likelihood of that is pretty strong.”

Wilson came down awkwardly during an offensive sequence midway through the first half, just 27 seconds after checking in for the first time. He limped to the KU sideline mid-play and was helped to the locker room shortly thereafter, returning to the bench with a cast on his foot early in the second half.

“That’s tough. That’s my guy," Dotson said of Wilson. "I know how hard he works and how much he cares. When I heard that it kind of set me back just personally. I just feel for him. ...

“I talked to him. I said, I mean, it’s hard because I wouldn’t know how to react if I was in that situation. I’m going to be the best supporter and make sure he’s all right with whatever he needs.”